The City University of New York cannot be trusted to police itself on antisemitism.
Over the course of 2022, the City University of New York has been mired in one antisemitic controversy after another. So the appointment of an investigator to examine harassment against a group of Jewish professors should have been an opportunity for CUNY to rebuild trust.
Instead, CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez appointed Saly Abd Alla, the university’s chief diversity officer. The problem is, Alla previously worked for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
For those not familiar, CAIR supports BDS, defends Hamas, and engages in inflammatory rhetoric against Israel. The U.S. Justice Dept. lists CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator in funding millions of dollars to Hamas.
CAIR also made the Simon Wiesenthal’s “Global Anti-Semitism 2021 Top Ten List” (number eight on a list that included Iran, Hamas, Jewish Voices for Peace and the BBC).
Alla is specifically tasked with probing accusations leveled by Professor Jeffrey Lax, who is dean of the business department at the Kingsborough campus. Lax filed a complaint over a 2020 incident in which the Progressive Faculty Caucus deliberately scheduled a meeting during the Sabbath to exclude the participation of Jewish members.
Lax and several other Jewish professors also filed a lawsuit to sever ties with the Professional Staff Congress, CUNY’s faculty union. The union, Lax says, is anti-Zionist and does not represent the interests of its Jewish members.
Alla’s appointment is the latest in a string of outrages for the CUNY system’s more than 2,000 Jewish students and faculty.
• The keynote speaker at the Law School’s graduation was a Palestinian activist who says Israel “has no right to exist” and “must be annihilated.”
• The New York City Council cut $50,000 earmarked for the CUNY Law School after faculty endorsed a student measure calling for a boycott of Israel.
• The search committee for a diversity officer at CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College includes a BDS supporter but no Jews.
• A group of students and staff made a high-profile and offensive vow to create programs to help Jews at CUNY’s 25 campuses “unlearn Zionism.”
• When the New York City Council held a hearing in June on antisemitism in the CUNY system, Jewish students described harassment and discrimination in seven hours of testimonies.
That was all in 2022.
A 2021 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report found that CUNY has fostered an antisemitic environment for years.
It’s clear from Alla’s appointment that CUNY cannot be trusted to police itself. Officials from New York state and New York City — the university’s primary funding sources — must hold CUNY accountable.
Demand CUNY appoint an impartial investigator.
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